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Houston District May Face State Takeover

Texas education officials could appoint monitors to oversee the Houston school district—the seventh largest in the country—if the district does not turnaround 15 low-performing schools, according to the Houston Chronicle.

That was the message state officials delivered in meetings with local officials earlier this week, as part of an update on what could happen if student achievement does not get better in those schools.

State accountability scores will be released next week, and a state law allows the agency to close school campuses that have been on an "improvement required" list for five years or appoint a board of managers over the entire district, DeEtta Culbertson, a spokeswoman for the agency said this week.

Houston is not the only district facing such scrutiny, according to the Chronicle. Other districts include Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Corpus Christi. Houston school officials told the Chronicle earlier this week that they've been told that only eight schools needed to show improvement to avoid state action.

The Chronicle also reported on Thursday that state officials offered the district a third option: convert the long-struggling schools into in-district charters.

Many of the schools that meet the state criteria are part of a $20 million turnaround plan that Superintendent Richard Carranza proposed this spring. The plan, which is called "Achieve 180,"  targets 32 schools, with specific district-based targets. Among the goals: increase the percentage of students who read and write at or above grade level by three percentage points annually between spring 2017 and spring 2022 and increase the percentage of students who show at least one year of academic growth in reading and math by three percentage points a year between spring 2017 and spring 2022. 

Carranza's plan places significant emphasis on improving instruction and other support for teachers and school leaders. It also includes an emphasis on social and emotional learning.

Carranza arrived from San Francisco last year as the permanent replacement for former superintendent Terry Grier. Grier also had his own signature program, Apollo 20, to turn around some of the district's struggling schools. That program, which ran for three years, included replacing principals and teachers, extra tutoring in math and reading, and an extended school day. The results were mixed. 

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